By Francis Ewherido
The first time I saw it on social media, I recoiled. A young writer was describing the great Chief Femi Falana and all he could say was Falana is the father of Falz. Chief Falana is, of course, the father of Falz (Folarin Falana), but before Falz became a sensation, there was Femi Falana.
As at 1990, when Falz was born, Femi Falana was already a well-known human rights activist with older human rights activists like his late former boss, Alao Aka-Bashorun, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, amongst others.
They were constant thorns in the flesh of the military government. Falana contributed greatly to the enthronement of democratic rule in 1999. He remains active till date. As a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, he has hit the zenith of the legal profession. Yet the young writer could not introduce him based on his achievements; he tagged him “father of Falz” to show that Falana is an important person. Of Multi-billionaire, Dr. Deji Adeleke, one young writer’s headline says: “Dr. Deji Adeleke (Davido’s father).”
I also read another story, where Femi Otedola was introduced as the father of DJ Cuppy. In this case, I did not recoil; rather I laughed. What goes around comes around. When I came to Lagos in the 80s. Sir Michael Otedola, the father of Femi Otedola, was well known. In 1992, he was elected the governor of Lagos State. He stayed till 1993 when Gen. Sani Abacha’s coup ended his reign.
Fast forward to year 2000 and beyond, Femi Otedola came on the scene and I started reading, “Sir Michael Otedola, father of Femi Otedola.” So, if the media introduce Femi Otedola as the father of DJ Cuppy, he is only being served a healthy dose of his own medicine – a medicine every (successful) parent would love to drink, though.
I will not refer to Femi Falana as the father of Falz, Dr. Deji Aleleke as father of Davido and Femi Otedola as the father of DJ Cuppy in the headlines or first paragraphs of a write-up. These men have made their marks and should be introduced based on their accomplishments. “Father of this or that”appendages will only come in the later paragraphs.
This is without prejudice to what their children have achieved. They have achieved so much at an age when many of their contemporaries are still trying to find their feet. Many of their mates – some of them graduates – are still being housed, fed and clothed by their parents.
Some people say that successful young men and women from privileged backgrounds made it because of their family background, but I disagree. They knew what they wanted at an early stage; they had dreams and pursued them; they found their purpose early and committed themselves to living it; they had talents and skills and honed them.
If you ascribe their success to only their illustrious background what about Wizkid and other grass to grace stories? What about other young people from rich and privileged backgrounds, who are wasting away in lives debauchery, drug addiction, alcoholism, aimlessness and purposeless?
Climbing out of poverty and anonymity to prominence, especially in Nigeria,can be very tough, no doubt, but we all live and operate in this difficult environment. My experience in life is that making excuses is very unhelpful. I work with some youths and I am tracking their progress. My experience so far is that those who are driven by purpose, who know what they want, are making better progress than those who fall and go for anything.
Our lives need to be purpose-driven. You can start off with any legitimate job that comes your way, but what are your plans for the future? Many youths have no medium or long term plans. You better start thinking about your future even in the midst of difficulties. Introspect and discover the wonderful talents and skills God has deposited in you.
Even while you are doing “anything” for a living, hone those innate skills. Your chance will come and only people, who are prepared, take chances. Do not dig your talents in the ground like that foolish and wicked servant in the bible; use them, even if pro bono, for now like the two wise servants (25: 14-25). Set your goals – short-term, medium-term and long-term – and let your sight be fixed permanently on them.
Read biographies of people, who have succeeded in your area of interest. The biographies are online, in newspaper articles and in books. Is it entertainment, publishing, fashion, entrepreneurship, manufacturing? They are all there. Some of these people were in a similar situation you are now at some points in their lives. Some of them are still very much around and might be willing to provide mentorship if you approach them. But you must know the rules guiding mentor-mentee relationships and abide by them.
I see too much of blame game among young people. Everything and everyone around them have contributed to their predicament. They are the only party without a fault. How? With those character flaws, lack of self-development and absence of clarity of what you want? Common, success and greatness come from within and only manifest without. Go and fulfil your own part of the bargain first, the external lines will fall into the right places someday.
Back to successful silver-spoon kids, their privileged background certainly quickened their journey to fame, wealth and stardom, but they also worked hard. I can never diminish the success these youngsters have achieved. Some youngsters from privileged backgrounds just want to live off the family wealth and name; they have no interest in adding more value to the family name.
In 1985 at Nsukka, I was introduced to the nephew of a prominent politician and political office holder in the Second Republic. I introduced myself as “Francis,” but he introduced himself with his family name. I thought as youngsters we should call ourselves by our first name, but he was just cool with his family name and hung on to it as if it was a ticket to heaven.
But look at these successful silver-spoon kids. Falz abandoned Falana and simply went with the stage name, Falz. Florence Otedola is DJ Cuppy. David Adedeji Adeleke is simply Davido. No clinging to their famous surnames, some of which go way back. DJ Cuppy’s grandfather, Sir Michael Otedola, was a former Lagos State Governor, while Davido’s grandfather, Senator Raji Ayoola Adeleke,was a Second Republic senator. They forsook these door-opening names and took on stage names.
But our young writers should study some history. Headlining Femi Otedola as DJ Cuppy’s father, Femi Falana as Falz’s father and “Dr. Deji Adeleke (Davido’s Father),” diminishes what these men have achieved. But this “misnomer” has crept into Wikipedia.
Femi Falana’s biography in Wikipedia is just 98 words, but Falz’s is 1018 words. May be, younger writers also wrote them (Lol), but who cares? Femi Falana is Falz’s father after all. My prayers for all parents is that our children should reach much greater heights than us; may they achieve successes that we could not even have envisioned.